A Round of Scandale.

Start. Ambleside.

Route. Ambleside - Kirkstone Road - Snarker Pike - Snarker Moss - Raven Crag - Red Screes - Smallthwaite Band - Middle Dodd - Scandale Pass - Bakestones Moss - Thack Bottom Edge - High Pike - Low Pike - High Brock Crags - Low Brock Crags - High Sweden Coppice - Low Sweden Bridge - Nook End Farm - Nook Lane - Ambleside.

Notes. “A tributary valley whose mouth is set above the floor of the main valley, usually as a result of differences in glaciation”, dictionary description of a hanging valley, Scandale being a perfect example. The hills bordering this gem above Ambleside are awesome with fearful cliffs rising from the valley floor, impressive ridge lines gift the walker with breathtaking views across most of the Lake District and the vast expanse of the Eden Valley to a skyline dominated by the North Pennines, it's five star but first you have to make the ascent. In the good old days when teams of shepherds worked the fells, the sheep would be herded into the head of large funnels, brought down from the fell between dry stone walls, it was one of these funnels that guided me onto the hill.

As Scandale drains into Windermere and there's lots of parking in Ambleside this foray started at the foot of the Kirkstone Road. This narrow ribbon of the grey stuff is steep, lots of cyclists test their metal on it, a few passed me as I trudged slowly up hill, on reaching the second foot-path on the left I abandoned the road, passed through a couple of gates to start the long, easy ascent of Red Screes. I climbed the long gentle southern shoulder, stiles aided my crossing of dry stone walls, the final stile deposited me at the southern end of Snarker Moss, an easy but damp under foot ascent of Snarker Pike followed. Greeted by extensive vistas I rested a while before traversing the rest of the moss to ascend Raven Crag, yet more superb views, from the large cairn on Raven Crag it was a short traverse passed Red Screes Tarn to the summit. Adorned with a trig point, cairn and wind shelter, I sat amongst the ornaments drinking in some of the best views in Lakeland. From the summit I descended through snow and ice, Smallthwaite Band guided me to the short ridge terminating at the summit of Middle Dodd, I paused to contemplate my descent route.

Danger lay ahead, the northern slopes of Red Screes were plastered in snow and ice, if I'd had any sense I'd have climbed back to the summit of Red Screes then followed the main trod to Scandale Pass. In a fit of bravado I started my traverse, crampons would of made the job simple but mine were at home and the slopes got steeper, the traverse was painstakingly slow, fraught with danger but surprisingly uneventful, it deposited me on the slabs just above the head of Scandale Pass.

From the summit of the pass I ascended north, a dry stone wall guided me towards Bakestones Moss, the wall soon gave way to an old boundary fence. Under the slopes of Little Hart Crag my new found friend ushered me, across Bekestones Moss and up the side of Dove Crag depositing me on the Fairfield Horseshoe path between High Pike and Dove Crag, I turned left away from Dove Crag, enough bravado for one day. With a well warn path under foot and another dry stone wall for company the ridge line guided me towards Ambleside, beckoning me onwards the shimmering waters of Windermere Lake. Above Thack Bottom Edge I strolled, over High Pike then it's lower neighbour the aptly named Low Pike, surrendering height with every step I descended High and Low Brock Crags before passing through treeless Sweden Coppice. Low Sweden Bridge aided my crossing of Scandale Beck before I stepped onto tarmac at Nook End Farm, the farm marked the head of Nook Lane the grey ribbon that ushered tired legs back into Ambleside.

view route map.


A small slice of Ambleside.

Ascending Red Scree's long gentle Southern shoulder looking to the Coniston massif.

Looking to Wansfell Pike rising from the valley cut by Stock Ghyll.

Gain a little height and Windermere Lake tilts into view.

In the distance Gummer's How with Claife Heights rising from the western shore of Windermere.

Looking down on Rydal Water, carrying a little snow, the Crinkle Crags.

Rising from Scandale High Pike and Bakestones.

Seen over the shoulder of Broad End, Ill Bell and Yoke rise sheer from the Troutbeck valley.

Traversing Snarker Moss looking back to Snarker Pike.

Near the summit of Raven Crag, with stunning views to the Coniston massif, from left to right, Coniston Old Man, Wetherlam and Great Carrs.

Dramatic views to Froswick, taking centre stage under deep snow Harter Fell.

The high skyline of Helvellyn and the Striding Edge approach, with St Sunday Crag to the right and the spectacular rock architecture of Dove Crag in the middle distance.

Magnificent views from the summit of Red Screes.

Taking a breather, soaking up the view over Kirkstone Pass, plunging to the valley floor Caudale Moor.

The wonderful view from Smallthwaite Band, over the tentacular arms of the Fairfield Horseshoe, Dark, top left Harter Fell, right a bit, Pike of Blisco followed by Crinkle Crags and Bow Fell, the top hat to the right of Bow Fell being Great Gable.

Dramatic views from Smallthwaite Band, seen over Middle Dodd Brothers Water and the Patterdale valley, the hills their faces in shadow, Place Fell top left, right rising from Boredale Hause Angletarn Pikes, right a bit more Brock Crag.

Approaching the head of Scandale, looking back to the drama I've tentatively just crossed.

Traversing Bakestones Moss looking back to Little Hart Crag (top right) with Coudale Moor rising behind.

The dramatic rock scenery of Dove Crag with St Sunday Crag dominating the horizon.

Who needs Summer when Winter brings scenes like this one.

Heading along Thack Bottom Edge nearing the summit of High Pike, looking back to Scandale Head, the cairn top left marks the summit of High Bakestones, far right across Bakestones Moss the rocky summit of Little Hart Crag.

Looking to Little Hart Crag across Scandale, the dip on the skyline being Scandale Pass.

On the slopes of High Pike with sunning views to Windermere Lake over Low Pike.

From Low Pike let the eye follow the ridge line to High Pike, to the left holding a little snow Fairfield.

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